I do not include games against the teams in question. For instance, Wisconsin is not penalized for hurting Minnesota's rushing defense simply because they ran for a million yards against the Gophers.
Also realize that games against FCS teams (Wofford, Florida A&M) are included, even though most of their numbers were compiled against non FBS teams.
Finally, while I hope the numbers are informative, I wouldn't call them predictive in purest sense, as sometimes matchups or game conditions obviously will affect how teams will perform.
In part one, I take a look at the scoring offense and scoring defense of both Wisconsin and Miami. What should we expect to see from each team in terms of bottom line offensive/defensive production?
Wisconsin Offense vs. Miami Defense:
Wisconsin averaged 32.8 points per game. The defenses they faced typically allowed 25.6 points per game. That gives the Badgers offense a net gain of 7.2 points per game. That means they scored about 7 points more per game than a typical opponent given the teams they played. These numbers are up about 3 points from last year.
They scored more than a touchdown above expected point totals in 7 games and were within a touchdown of expectation the other 5 times.
Miami allowed an average of 22.3 points per game. The offenses they faced typically scored 28 points per game. That gives the Miami defense a net gain of about 6 points per game. Like the Badger offense, the numbers indicate a very solid defense.
They allowed more than a touchdown below expected point totals in 6 games, more than a touchdown more twice, and were within a touchdown of expectation 4 times.
Analysis: On paper, we have a very even match-up. The Badger offense gets a slight edge here, but the difference is basically negligible. The numbers suggest the Badgers putting up about 28 points.
Miami Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense:
Miami averaged 31.7 points per game. The defenses they faced typically allowed 22.3 points per game. That gives the Hurricanes' offense a net gain of 9.3 points per game. While the Hurricanes actually averaged a tad less on offense, their offense was actually more impressive considering their defensive opponents were better than the defenses the Badgers faced.
They scored more than a touchdown above expected point totals in 8 games, more than touchdown less just once, and were within a touchdown of expectation 3 times. Their offense was consistently very good all year long (though they really piled on bad Virginia and FCS Florida A&M).
Wisconsin allowed an average of 22.4 points per game. The offenses they faced typically scored 26.8 points per game. That gives the Badger defense a net gain of 4.3 points per game. While much has been made about the improved Badger defense this year, the numbers say they are nearly identical, with much of the so-called improvement coming from playing worse offensive teams. Like the Hurricanes, the Badgers are indeed a better offensive team.
Analysis: Like the other side of the ball, the offense gets the edge here. However, the edge of the Miami offense is bigger than that of the Badger offense. Wisconsin should struggle to keep Miami off the scoreboard and on paper, this one looks to be a bit of a shootout. The breakdown suggests Miami putting up about 30 points against the Badgers.
Wisconsin Rushing Offense vs. Miami Rushing Defense
Wisconsin averaged 45 carries per game for 207 yards for 4.6 yards per carry. Their opposition typically allowed 35 carries for 132 yards and 3.8 per carry. The Badgers' rushing numbers are down slightly from last year despite playing easier rushing defenses.
Overall, they had "plus" rushing yards in 9 of 12 games, but none were terribly poor games. The Badgers averaged an additional 0.8 yards per carry than might be expected given the opposition, a solid number. Their rushing offense was very good, not great, but very good.
The Hurricane defense allowed an average of 34 carries for 118 yards and a 3.5 YPC average on the season. Their opponents' typical game was 38 carries for 146 yards and 3.8 YPC.
Overall, they had above average rush defense games 8 times and "minus" rush defense games 4 times. Of note is that they closed with solid rushing defense performances in 7 of the last 8 games, with Wake Forest being the only minor blemish.
Analysis: As always, this is a key for the Badgers, and they do have an edge here. While Wisconsin's rushing offense is not as good as last year, it is still well above average and they should be able to pound out some yards even though Miami's defense is quite good. The numbers suggest something along the lines of 45 carries for 180 yards.
Miami Rushing Offense vs. Wisconsin Rushing Defense
Miami averaged 37 carries per game for 144 yards for 3.9 yards per carry. Their opposition typically allowed 36 carries for 129 yards and 3.6 per carry. So basically, we are looking at fairly average rushing team. While they do have 3 200+ yard games (sometimes against decent teams), they also have enough clunkers in there to balance things out.
Overall, they had "plus" rushing yards in 8 of 12 games, but they also has some really dreadful rushing games as well.
The Badger defense allowed an average of 31 carries for 91 yards and a 2.9 YPC average on the season. Their opponent's average game was 38 carries for 150 yards and 4.0 YPC. Much like last year, the Badgers rush defense was very good, though this year, they really took that to a new level. Chopping off over a yard per carry and 60 yards per game is very impressive.
Overall, they had above average rush defense games in every single game this season. NOBODY ran for even their season average against the Badgers this year.
Analysis: Miami's rushing offense has been streaky, and as a result, checks in at very average, while the Badgers have held their final 9 opponents to under 100 yards rushing. The numbers say this should continue, with a possible Miami rushing line of something along the lines of 34 carries for 95 yards.
Wisconsin Passing Offense vs. Miami Passing Defense
The Badger offense averaged 17 completions on 26 attempts (63%) for 209 yards per game. Their TD/INT ratio was 16-11. They averaged 8.0 yards per attempt and allowed sacks on 6.6 percent of their passing attempts.
Wisconsin opponents typically allowed 18 completions on 31 attempts (59%) for 211 yards per game. Their TD/INT ratio was 194/135. They allowed 6.8 yards per attempt and sacked the QB on 6.3 percent of the passing attempts.
So what does it all mean?
1. They didn't throw the ball as much as typical teams, which is never a surprise for the Badgers. Their attempt totals, in fact, are the same as last year.
2. The Badger completion percentage was 4% higher than your average QB (up 8% from last year's mediocre QB play).
3. Yards per attempt were pretty good, picking up 1.2 yards per attempt. This isn't a great total, and is reflective of the types of throws that Tolzien makes, but it still a solid figure.
4. Their TD/INT ratio of 1.5 to 1 was about the norm (1.4 to 1).
5. A couple of years back, their sacks allowed rate was over 9%. It is now down to a slightly below average figure of 6.6%. While this isn't great, it isn't the glaring weakness it used to be.
The Miami defense averaged 16 completions on 30 attempts (53%) for 203 yards per game. Their TD/INT allowed ratio was 14-8. They averaged allowing 6.9 yards per attempt and sacked the quarterback on 6.1% of their attempts.
Miami opponents in non-UM games averaged 17 completions on 29 attempts (60%) for 217 yards per game. Their TD/INT ratio was 196/123. They averaged 7.5 yards per attempt and allowed sacks on 6.8% of the passing attempts.
When taken as a whole, here is what we know about the Miami passing defense:
1. Teams threw about an average amount of the time against the Canes.
2. They cut 7% off of opposing QB's completion percentage. This is a nice figure.
3. They allowed 0.6 yards fewer per attempt than average.
4. Their TD/INT rate of 1.8 to 1 was actually higher than the 1.6 to 1 norm. They faced some good throwing teams to be sure, but did have trouble getting picks. They also faced a couple of teams that simply did not even attempt to throw the ball on them (Georgia Tech, Va Tech, USF), which makes these numbers interesting in both a positive and a negative way.
5. Their pass rush was slightly below average, actually finishing at about 0.7% below the norm.
Analysis: The big things I always look for when breaking down a Badger opponent is their ability to get to the passer and the good news is that Miami is not especially strong with the rush. They should get some casual pressure, but nothing that should be a deal breaker for the Badgers.
When the ball does get in the air, the teams are pretty even. Wisconsin is a solid team throwing the ball, while Miami defends the pass pretty well. Wisconsin surely isn't going to be able to throw it all over the yards, but should have some success throwing short high percentage throws.
The numbers suggest a Wisconsin passing line along the lines of 15-26-190 with 2 touchdowns.
Edge: Slight to Miami
Miami Passing Offense vs. Wisconsin Passing Defense
The Hurricane offense averaged 19 completions on 32 attempts (60%) for 268 yards per game. Their TD/INT ratio was 24-17. They averaged 8.3 yards per attempt and allowed sacks on 7.2 percent of their passing attempts.
Miami opponents typically allowed 16 completions on 29 attempts (56%) for 192 yards per game. Their TD/INT ratio was 166/134. They allowed 6.6 yards per attempt and sacked the QB on 6.8 percent of the passing attempts.
So what does it all mean?
1. They threw the ball more than average, though perhaps not as much as the public perception.
2. Like the Badgers, the Canes' completion percentage was 4% higher than your average QB fared.
3. Their yards per attempt about 1.5 yards above norm. This is very good and indicates that they can stretch the field.
4. Their TD/INT ratio of 1.4 to 1 was very similar to Wisconsin's, though they faced better pass defenses, thereby getting the edge. The interception rate was fairly high, which is a good sign for the Badgers, but the TD rate is obviously also pretty high, so this more or less evens out.
5. Their pass protection was actually very similar to Wisconsin's: slightly below average. Teams did put heat on Jacory Harris despite his relative mobility.
The Wisconsin defense averaged 17 completions on 30 attempts (56%) for 220 yards per game. Their TD/INT allowed ratio was 20-15. They averaged 7.4 yards per attempt allowed and sacked the quarterback on 8.3% of their attempts.
Wisconsin opponents in non-UW games averaged 17 completions on 30 attempts (59%) for 219 yards per game. Their TD/INT ratio was 193/135. They averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and allowed sacks on 5.7% of the passing attempts.
When taken as a whole, here is what we know about the Wisconsin passing defense:
1. Teams threw the ball an average amount against the Badgers.
2. Despite better sack percentages, the rest of the numbers are all down from last year. Earlier, I talked about how the Wisconsin run defense was better this year. Well, they gave that edge back with poorer pass defense.
3. They cut 3% off of opposing QB's completion percentage. This is solid, but not at the level of really good pass defenses.
4. Their yards per attempt average was exactly average.
5. Their TD/INT rate of 1.3 to 1 was fair, but actually very close to the average QB performance of 1.4 to 1.
6. The big plus for the Badgers is their pass rush. Their sack rate of 8.3% is outstanding, especially considering that their typical opponent protected the QB better than the typical Miami opponent.
Analysis: The bottom line here is that the Badgers should be able to get to the QB and should get a pick or two. The bad news is that Miami is probably going to be able to throw the ball all over the field the rest of the time. If Harris makes good decision under pressure, it could get ugly. If he gets rattled…you never know. I would expect a conservative Miami passing line to look like this: 19-33-290 with 3 touchdowns and 2 picks. Given their projected difficulty running the ball, I could really see them throwing more than this however.